Georgia legislative session hits halfway point

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ATLANTA -- The 2012 legislative session reaches its midpoint this week, after taking off a long weekend for the romantics.

Lawmakers get back to work Wednesday after being on recess since Thursday. The break gives them a chance to spend Valentine’s Day with their spouse.

It also provides time for some behind-the-scenes work by the appropriations committees as they review spending requests. The Senate committee continues consideration of adjustments to the currrent year’s budget, and the House committee is studying next year’s.

Up for a floor vote are a few noteworthy bills.

“We expect to take up the metal-theft legislation as well as a measure to regulate the property-registration ordinances that are popping up across the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock.

The House is likely to take a second vote on a constitutional amendment to allow the state to create charter schools. And it could vote on an energy-tax break for manufacturers, according to Rep. Ron Stephens, chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee

“If no other tax bill passes this year, I bet my eyeteeth it will be that one,” said Stephens, R-Savannah.

Wednesday, the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee looks at the budget for the University System of Georgia. Administrators will be on hand to answer questions from lawmakers on the merger of eight colleges into four.

Also in the House that day, committees will hear testimony on a bill to mandate drug tests for welfare applicants sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, a measure requiring legislative approval for land transfers to Indian tribes wanting to set up a casino sponsored by Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, and two bills about dangerous dogs. Democrats plan to conduct a hearing among themselves on charter-school funding.

Thursday, a House committee considers allowing wine tasting at the state’s wineries.

On the Senate side, 19 committee meetings are scheduled, but none had posted agendas online.

No committees plan to meet Friday for the House or Senate.

Still, Rogers said the General Assembly is on a fast pace.

“We are moving through the session as quickly as possible. We anticipate finishing before the end of March,” he said.

Also during the week, will be the usual groups visiting legislators. Monday is Alzheimer’s Day, Tuesday Georgia Farm Bureau Day, Wednesday Rome and Milledgeville Day and Thursday is Disability Day at the Capitol.


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